Let’s face it, few job titles excite people like being a DJ does. Upon mention to anyone, there’s a good chance requisite questions from music genres to gig locations will be coming your way. From friends sharing playlists of exquisitely curated songs online, to old high school batch mates spinning in-house at some new bar you just discovered, these days, it seems like everybody’s a DJ.
Nix Pernia knows that. He’s been doing this a long while now. From regular performances around the local bar scene, to playing the biggest parties across the country, Nix acknowledges that it’s way easier for anyone now to make a living by hopping on the DJ bandwagon. However, he’s also quick to point out that just like with any craft – enjoying longevity is a product of hard work and dedication. We took some time with Nix, known to many as Nix Damn P to talk about his roots, what’s next, what’s on his feet, and the importance of trusting your DJ.
Words by Mykee Alvero & Photography by Zaldine Jae Alvaro
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Nix Pernia aka Nix Damn P. I’m a sucker for good music, and I'm also passionate about food, except for pineapples on pizza. And I provide good vibrations through DJ-ing.
How did you first discover DJ-ing?
I discovered it through a friend from college. When I saw his DJ set collecting dust inside his room, I asked what it was for and if I could borrow it. Looking back, it’s not like he had a choice, but good thing he said yes.
When did you know it was something you wanted to do?
I didn’t have plans on being a DJ before. But when I lived with my brother in the US and won a DJ competition in California, it was a pretty big deal to me. I realized DJ's are artists too. There's a whole "industry" for it, and that the craft is way deeper than I thought.
How were your first gigs like? What was the most memorable gig that formed your strong perspective of DJ-ing?
One big question mark. It was a time in my life where I had a lot of questions in my head, I was really confused. Since I didn’t know how to spin different kinds of music, I was only playing hard house or trance at small parties for free. I went from gigs with no talent fees to P500-1000 a night. I used to think it was all about the music, but it turns out there’s a business and culture side to DJ-ing too.
Does your own personal taste in music influence what you play live? How do you balance it with what the audience like?
Yeah, it’s our identity as music influencers. I balance it by keeping my ears wide open to all genres, from underground stuff to mainstream joints. When it comes to playing live, people either hear good or bad music. No in-betweens.
When it comes to approaching a performance, do you come prepared or is it something you just vibe out?
Whether it’s an event or a party, I treat a performance like I’m telling a short story. Different environments have different crowds, but having the right music really gets vibes going. But still, hours in the studio reflect on your performance. Practice in silence, perform with confidence.
Are there any assumptions people have towards being a DJ or any challenges that come with it that you’ve had to overcome?
Where do I start? Everyone is a DJ now [laughs]! Kidding aside, it’s become so popular that it created a lot of new industries to make a living from – magazines, events, blogs to movies. So it actually helps a lot. People now know we’re not robots [laughs]. But at the same time, it’s on us to stay true to the craft, be consistent to the craft, and innovate.
Are there any other DJs or people you look up to, people you’d consider masters of their craft?
Oh yeah! DJ Craze is up there on the top of the list with DJ Premier, DJ Krush, Jazzy Jeff, DJ AM, A-Trak, Gaslamp Killer, RL Grime, Deadmau5 and more. They’re up there cause they innovate while staying true to their craft.
What inspires you to keep working on yours?
Our people, education, and the road of learning that never ends. It drives me to take this craft to new levels. It excites me to create, and it moves me toward directions that were goals I once dreamed of.
Speaking of masters, you’ve got the “Master” Air Max 1s on. They take cues from the greatest Air Max 1s of all time and spin them into an entirely new shoe. Do you think it’s a good representation of what a DJ does?
Yeah! It’s crazy when you think about it, because DJs aren’t just about the music now. There’s a Swiss Army Knife vibe to being a DJ like how people say to use music as a tool. We can connect it to graphic design, we score films, and we can even create events.
In terms of the Air Max “Masters”, I guess it’s the blend of materials, cultures and influences coming together that relates to how our industry is. There’s chaos and balance, at the same time.
What’s next for NixDamnP?
Still climbing this mountain called music [laughs]! It never ends man! I’m in a good place now cause of new skills. It’s exciting to create your own music. It’s hard but it’s rewarding.
What words of advice would you give for anyone who wants to be a DJ as well?
Know your roots. Be real. Respect the craft. And oh practice and practice and practice and practice and practice…and practice! TRUST YOUR DJ!